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RES0001 Research Skills and Using Information Assignment

Introduction to the topic

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In recent times, social media has been influencing the lives of young people and along with using it for entertainment and information purposes, it is now being used for educational or academic purposes by higher education students. Various platforms of social media have undoubtedly supported the learning, knowledge and education of students. It has been pointed by Douglas et al. (2015) that 71 % of the students in the UK use Facebook as a communication tool by students for communicating with their teachers for educational purposes. Jonsson (2013) viewed social media as an informal way of learning as the students interact with each other informally for their academic purpose.

The aim of this report is to critically examine the use of social media by higher education students while accessing different platforms and for different purposes. Some appropriate literature sources which have been analyzed in Part A will be summarized and a process will be shared in a detailed way for selecting the literature and data. Apart from this, their relevance and reliability will be evaluated and a personal reflection will be made on personal learning during the entire research.

Description of the literature and data

Some literature sources have been used and evaluated for gaining knowledge about the chosen research topic. The literature sources have been selected online in the form of peer-reviewed journal articles that contained recent or updated information about the use of social media by students. Different authors have claimed different views in their literature and have supported their opinions by using a complete list of references.

The first literature of "Social Media Use in Higher Education: A Review" has linked some popular networks of social media with higher education and the learning process of students. The second literature of "Perceived Ease of Use and Perceived Usefulness of Social Media for e-Learning in Libyan Higher Education: A Structural Equation Modeling Analysis" has used some models and attitudes of students towards using the social media platforms. The third literature of "The Impact of Social Media use on Academic Performance among university students: A Pilot Study" has evaluated and examined the effects of social media on the improved academic performance of students. The last literature of "Experiences of social media in higher education: barriers, enablers and next steps" has evaluated the personal experiences of students to analyze the importance of those social media tools which are being currently used by the students.

The secondary data has been collected and examined by the evaluation of multiple sources. The data was collected from online sources within the least possible time and cost. The literature sources were identified and selected via Google search. The data contained both qualitative and quantitative information which have been presented in the form of students' experiences and numeric figures/ percentages of the social media platforms being widely used by the students (O'Flaherty and Phillips 2015). The secondary data was collected from reliable sources and greater confidentially was made of the collected data during the research.

The chosen literature sources have helped in ensuring the detailed understanding and knowledge about the research topic as they have helped in evaluating different aspects of social media such as its effects on the academic performance of students, improved knowledge among students, level of engagement and teachers' perspectives. The selected sources have not only helped in knowing about the positive outcomes of the use of social media, but also about some of the barriers which could hamper the growth of higher education students (O'Flaherty and Phillips 2015).

Process used to select the literature and data

To select the appropriate literature and data, the following process has been followed:

  • Firstly, the information about both the primary and secondary data was collected and comparisons between them were analyzed to ensure the best source of data.
  • After analyzing their respective advantages and disadvantages, the secondary data was selected as it has been viewed as the best form of data and also it consumed less time and cost in its collection and analysis as compared to primary data.
  • Some keywords were used for searching for peer-reviewed journal articles or literature sources such as the use of social media, social media platforms used by higher education students, the impact of social media on academic performance of students and many more (O'Flaherty and Phillips 2015).
  • The period was set up and defined starting from the year 2013 up to the year 2021 so that recent searches could be made and updated or recently published articles/ literature could be identified and selected.
  • The searched articles were then studied deeply and their reliability as well as the authenticity has been ensured o that those literature sources can be selected which contained authentic and reliable information about the topic.
  • After evaluating different literature sources, the most effective and recent ones have been selected and summarized that involved the complete information about social media use for academic purposes (Knowles and Cooner, 2016).

To ensure that all the references were reputable and reliable, it was identified that whether the information and views contained in the journal articles have been supported with the proper evidence or not. Also, the publication was checked of each literature, the core purpose of all the sources has been detected to ensure that whether the article has closely got linked with the research topic or not. In addition to this, the period or year was identified of each source because out-dated information could hamper its reliability and the quality of content has been detected. It has also been determined that whether the literature is bounded by any potential bias or not and whether it includes some reliable links to other academic sources or not (Knowles and Cooner, 2016). Therefore, credible, unbiased and reliable sources have been selected that contained proper evidence. Those literature sources were selected which involved fair, balanced, consistent and non biased information that could be easily understood by the readers.

Summary of the literature and data

Source 1

According to the views of Zachos et al. (2018) social media has emerged as the new ways of learning and embracing knowledge among students. Some of the students use Facebook for carrying out academic activities; while other students use it for entertainment purposes. Social media is viewed as the informal type of learning based on interaction where the students are able to share and exchange reliable ideas related to their academic courses. This literature has further examined that social media platforms have improved the learning effectiveness of higher education students and they are able to carry the research and develop their learning to a deeper level.

Source 2

Some challenges have been identified in this literature by Elkaseh et al. (2016) due to which most of the students are not able to take the advantage of using social media for academic purpose. Those challenges include copyright issues, feeling of information constraint, lack of originality in the study and lack of experience among teachers of using those online platforms. Even after possessing all these challenges, social media has been proved to be a constructivist technique of learning which probably helps the students to improve their level of understanding and enhance their level of interaction with other classmates and teachers.

Source 3

Al-Rahmi and Othman (2013) believed that social media platforms are becoming the important tools of communication among higher education students and tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are bridging up the gap of communication among students and teachers. The students have become able to improve their collaborative learning and academic performance by the greater potential of social media. Social technologies are considered highly influential to students' learning and they let all the students manage complex academic tasks and improve the final results of scholars.

Source 4

It has been evaluated that currently, social media tools are being used within three contexts including personal, teaching and professional. The students by using the social media platforms can connect, communicate and collaborate with their classmates and teachers. Purvis et al. (2015) identified one primary reason for not using social media in education or teaching i.e. not knowing about how to use and operate those platforms. YouTube videos could be embedded within the traditional environment of virtual learning. Lack of security, privacy, lack of confidentiality, ethics, lack of confidence among students and teachers and technical issues are some of the major concerns which restrict higher education students to use social media.

It is very important for all the readers to look over and consider the data as included within each of the literature so that the readers can properly and completely understand different aspects of the research topic. Data is said to be one of the vital and important aspects of research studies. The analyzed and interpreted data can make the readers aware of various positive as well as the negative outcomes of using social media by the students for academic purposes.

The statistical and numeric data that have been represented in the form of graphs can help the readers deeply understand the concerns and usage percentage of all the social media platforms. Data plays the role of genuine and reliable shreds of evidence that support the information and reviews as been claimed by different authors in different literature.

Evaluation of the relevance and reliability

It has been evaluated that all the literature sources are relevant and reliable because all of them involved recently published information and updated data. The data and information was supported with reliable and genuine evidence. All the sources and evidence are correct and no biasness has been founded in any of the literature sources. The content of all the sources is directly linked to the selected topic of research and the peer-reviewed articles have been chosen after the period of 2013 so that no out-dated information could hamper the quality of research (Knowles and Cooner, 2016).

All the sources contained credible information as those sources have been published by authentic publishers. The language used in literature is simple and can be easily understood by the readers. Also, all the selected literature articles were written by experienced and knowledgeable authors who are specialized in their respective fields. The articles are peer-reviewed as they have been supported and critically assessed by various authors (Knowles and Cooner, 2016). All the data and information were accurate and opinions have been supported with reliable facts. Each literature has a list of references that reflected that the information is complete, verified, accurate and correct.

Personal reflection

I have learned various things about the research topic and the research itself. For example, I have learned to collect secondary data accurately in the context of the research topic along with evaluating whether the literature sources and information/ data are authentic and reliable or not. I have come to know about the positive and negative effects of using social media for educational purposes. I have developed the ability to integrate multiple sources and reflect on the final outcomes of the research.

Also, I got to learn about organizing the collected data according to the needs and requirements of readers. I have personally evaluated that, when used properly and effectively, social media can bring favorable opportunities, benefits and learning to all the higher education students from different platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. I have further learned to summarize various literature sources after analyzing and examining different authors' views and opinions within a limited period. I have determined the importance of using those sources which contain the updated, verified and accurate information or data for evaluating the reliable outcomes of the research.


It can be concluded that social media can enable students to perceive multiple benefits related to their respective academic and educational courses by using different tools and platforms. The literature sources have been summarized and their reliability and relevance have been examined.


Al-Rahmi, W. and Othman, M., 2013. The impact of social media use on academic performance among university students: A pilot study. Journal of information systems research and innovation4(12), pp.1-10.

Douglas, J.A., Douglas, A., McClelland, R.J. and Davies, J., 2015. Understanding student satisfaction and dissatisfaction: an interpretive study in the UK higher education context. Studies in Higher Education40(2), pp.329-349.

Elkaseh, A.M., Wong, K.W. and Fung, C.C., 2016. Perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness of social media for e-learning in Libyan higher education: A structural equation modeling analysis. International Journal of Information and Education Technology6(3), p.192.

Jonsson, A., 2013. Facilitating productive use of feedback in higher education. Active learning in higher education14(1), pp.63-76.

Knowles, A.J. and Cooner, T.S., 2016. International collaborative learning using social media to learn about social work ethics and social media. Social Work Education35(3), pp.260-270.

O'Flaherty, J. and Phillips, C., 2015. The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review. The internet and higher education25, pp.85-95.

Purvis, A., Rodger, H.M. , Beckingham, S. 2015. Experiences of social media in higher education: barriers, enablers and next steps. Sheffield Hallam University.

Zachos, G., Paraskevopoulou-Kollia, E. A. and Anagnostopoulos, I. 2018. Social Media Use in Higher Education: A Review. Education Sciences.

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